Nearly a year after Johnson & Johnson recalled its power morcellator in July 2014 for spreading hidden cancers in women, the FBI is investigating what the company knew about the associated risks prior to recalling the device. The tool has been used in thousands of hysterectomies and benign uterine fibroid removal surgeries as a minimally invasive procedure, but has recently been linked to spreading undetected cancer. FBI agents are stepping in to gain insight to the problems, and have interviewed a retired pathologist who first broke the news to J&J that there were problems with the device nearly a decade ago. Agents have also interviewed an outspoken doctor whose own uterine cancer was exacerbated by a morcellator, and a woman who has gathered the names of nearly 400 others who were injured by the dangerous tool.
As a result of the recall and subsequent FDA “black box” warning that morcellator use should be curtailed due to cancer risks, hospitals and health care companies across the nation are limiting or stopping morcellator use altogether. The FBI investigation into what Johnson & Johnson—the tool’s largest manufacturer—knew about the risks may bring justice to patients who underwent morcellation and suffered life-threatening side-effects.